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Family Ties? Parent-Child Relationships in a Selection of Young Adult Critical Dystopian Texts (Elizabeth Braithwaite, Rebecca Hutton, Alyson Miller)


The role of the family in critical dystopian texts for young adults presents a curious mix between the traditional and the transgressive (see Bradford et. al 131). This paper analyses three critical dystopian novels for young adults – Why Weeps the Brogan? (Scott 1989), Waterbound (Stemp 1995) and The Sea-wreck Stranger (Mackenzie 2007) – to demonstrate ways in which this tension is played out within the genre. Using Trites’ model of the three types of parent/adolescent construction within young adult texts – actual parent, quasi-parent, and ‘parent of words’ this paper will argue that young adult critical dystopian texts demand a restructuring of family ties. Despite this reconfiguring of family bonds, the influence of parents, for good or ill, remains crucial to the genre, as does the necessity for young adults to renegotiate their relationships with parental figures.

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